I can't afford that.
I can't disappoint my child.
Actually, you can, but you choose not to. And in refusing to make a hard choice, you usually hurt yourself.
Mary arrived late for an appointment, apologizing profusely and blaming a colleague for scheduling a meeting and informing her after the fact. She "could not" wiggle out of the meeting, and
"could not" excuse herself when, predictably, the meeting ran long.
It turns out she could have re-scheduled the meeting. And, though her presence was important, it wasn't critical, and the colleague could have concluded the meeting without her.
These options did not occur to her because she felt obligated to comply with the expectations and needs of others, setting herself at a lower priority. The guilt was compounded as she felt obligated to make excuses to me for her tardiness. And that's where she betrayed herself.
Many people are poor money managers, simply because they make poor choices; choices that favor others over themselves—an act of self-betrayal. And many of these same people are poor time managers for the same reason—more acts of self-betrayal.
My counsel is to Mind Your Own Business. That means putting yourself first, but in a positive way. Turn your self-betraying acts in to self-respecting behaviors.
"I can't afford it" rarely means you don't have the money. Poor managers spend money the same way a child eats vegetables. The child claims, "I'm full!" when told to finish the vegetables on their plate. They are not really full, but are saving room for dessert or a later snack; both of which taste better but have lower nutrition quality.
Adults apply the same strategy to money, time, physical activity; neglecting health-affirming choices in favor of less healthy alternatives. Yet they are firmly convinced that no such choice exists. And they see no contradiction. Why?
Translate "I can't afford..." into "I'm not worthy." Children make poor choices because they don't know any better. Adults make poor choices when they don't feel good about themselves; when they consider themselves less worthy of health and happiness—when they feel they do not deserve respect or love.
That's why they diminish their needs (as opposed to wants); or worse, put other people's wants in front of their own needs. In other words, protecting a child from disappointment may not be the best thing for them, particularly if a parent sacrifices their own needs for something a child wants, as opposed to what the child actually needs.
Such children grow into adults who repeat the pattern, aspiring to wants while neglecting their needs...because they do not feel worthy...because they were not taught the difference between needs and wants...and because they have not learned to put their needs first.
Dr. Kweethai, as Chief Catalyst for Change, helps clients regain their self-worth, so they can achieve the health and happiness they deserve. Next time you hear "I can't..." emerging from your lips, consider it to mean you won't entertain an alternative that is better for you, that puts your needs first.
When such alternatives elude a client, Dr. Kweethai helps take the “t” out of “can’t” and turns limiting beliefs into opportunities.